the Empathy List #52: Fall on Your Face
The Beginning of Lent & Burning Your Skinny Jeans on Your Tween's Advice
Hey friend, Liz here.
This week has been one of examination in the Grant household.
As professing Christians, any public scandal amongst other Christians feels personal. And in this season, evangelicals have been falling from grace left and right. Apparently, the people leading churches aren’t who they professed to be, nor are they remotely similar to the man they professed to follow.
(The story that I can’t stop thinking about is the Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias and the dozens of claims of manipulation, sexual favors, and abuse committed by him—#1 on the Envy List this week. Read more…)
Jesus was homeless, got on his hands and knees to wash the mud off his followers’ feet, and proved that love looks like losing all you have, rather than holding tight to the life you want. In contrast, some Christian leaders are using the power afforded by their positions to amass wealth, to hedge themselves against criticism, and to abuse those beneath them.
This isn’t just a crisis of the faith, but a crisis of how our culture engages in religion, politics, and life within a community.
I have spent M A N Y years in therapy, which has taught me that functional leadership looks like bending low, like the example of Christ himself. Leaders who are worthy of being followed are the ones who care more about their followers than themselves.
If a leader can get away with something a follower can’t, then we have a problem, Houston. That’s a big, fat, red warning light blaring in the cockpit, and we are going down, fast and hard.
But I believe change is still possible, even in these places where compromises have led to great evil. Jesus offers that transformation to us, but it does not remotely resemble a vacation filtered through the warm light of Instagram.
Instead, the transformation offered by Jesus looks like gruesome death. This is the danger—and hope—offered by the season of Lent.
The invitation of Jesus is brutal: Sell everything you have, stretch out your arms, and release yourself into the bleeding hands of God.
The invitation leads to Christ, but we don’t get there any way except empty-handed and bloody. The path is the death of all you know, of your comfort, of what once sustained you, of the privilege and power you believe is your due.
This release is the only lexicon we have to understand the radical, self-sacrifice of Christ enacted on Easter Sunday.
May we all die this winter and be resurrected with Christ this Spring.
That is my prayer for you, for me, and for our nation as we enter Lent willingly …or bawling like a toddler at naptime.
Thanks for reading, my friend. Would you forward this reflection to a friend? It would mean a lot! :)
Warmly, Liz Charlotte Grant
The news I can’t stop thinking about this week:
The scandal behind the ministry of international Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias was far worse than we could have imagined.
Christianity Today | Read more…
Today is Ash Wednesday: which means it’s time for Christians to innovate.
From “Lent-in-a-box” to “palm parades” to “ash’n’dash” services, Christians are celebrating differently this year, due to the pandemic.
Sojourners | Read more…
“A twenty‐three‐year‐old influencer sat next to her on the couch and spoke of the feeling of being a public body; his skin seemed to have no pores whatsoever. ‘Did you read . . . ?’ they said to each other again and again. ‘Did you read?’ They kept raising their hands excitedly to high‐five, for they had discovered something even better than being soul mates: that they were exactly, and happily, and hopelessly, the same amount of online.”
The weird world of an “extremely online“ social media influencer is only interrupted by the tragedy of a body in this poetic, surrealist short story by Patricia Lockwood.
The New Yorker | Read more…
I hate to tell you, but Gen Z hates your skinny jeans, your side part, and your laugh-crying emoji. The fake war of the under-40s is on! ;-)
The Guardian | Read more…
For black history month, the Curator Magazine editors (such as yours truly) are highlighting our favorite reads by black authors.
One of my picks: Hunger by Roxane Gay
”One black woman’s exploration of her large body and the culture that makes “fat” a bad word.”
The Curator Magazine | Read more…
Just for fun…
An outdoor exercise class catches Myanmar’s military coup in-progress.